The Gift of Compassion
The most important gift we are giving our children this year won’t fit under the tree. It can’t be wrapped nor can it be opened in one day. This gift requires them to begin to die to their selfish desires. This gift will open their eyes to some ugly truths about this world- poverty, slavery, starvation. This gift will help them realize the need to share the love of Jesus with others. And isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas? This year we want to give our kids the gift of understanding and extending compassion.
Compassion is more than sympathy or helping someone because it’s expected of us. Compassion is love in action in response to the love we’ve received from Christ. Compassion is meeting the needs of another. It‘s the realization that what I have: my money, my comfort, my time aren’t really mine in the first place. They were given to me for a purpose and that is to glorify Christ by rejecting the opportunity to keep what God intended me to give. To teach my children compassion I need to open their eyes to how blessed they are by showing them how the rest of the world, even children in their own school, live. The only way they will be able to show true compassion is to first help them realize how wealthy we are, and with that wealth we have a responsibility to meet the needs of others.
Several months ago I was drinking my very expensive coffee treat and flipping through some mail when I noticed a photo of a starving child in a newsletter from a relief organization. Those brown eyes captured me. The money spent on my one cup of coffee could feed that malnourished child for days. But that child died on the foot journey to find a hospital and food. His bony face was burned in my memory. And my spending habits began to haunt me. When pulling out my credit card to buy an unnecessary treat my conscience murmured to the little boy in my memory, “Sorry, little one, you can’t eat today. I really want this cute top on clearance. It’s only $3!” I quickly told the clerk that I changed my mind and returned the top.
What would my shopping list look like if I kept a photo of an impoverished child in my wallet? What if I took the money I spent on ‘fluff’ and instead used it to feed a hungry child or help build a well to provide clean water in a third world country. What would the next generation value if I taught my children true compassion and opened their eyes to the poverty so many live in?
Join me in this challenge through the holidays and into next year:
- Sponsor a child through an organization such as World Vision or Compassion International. You will receive a photo of the precious soul you are supporting. Put that photo on top of your credit card. Have your children take turns writing letters and drawing pictures for your sponsor child. Research the area they live in and ask them about their daily activities.
- Subscribe to enewsletters or blogs of organizations such as World Vision, Compassion International, Lifesong for Orphans or International Justice Mission and share the stories of suffering and stories of triumph with your children.
- Ask your school’s administration if there is a family you may anonymously adopt during the school year. Donate school supplies, shoes and backpacks. Wrap Christmas gifts for the family. Send extra valentines for them to give to classmates.
- Serve together at a homeless shelter. Take new games and toys to a group home for foster children and play with the children. Make cookies or paint pictures to deliver to residents at a retirement home. Take along checkers or chess and have your kids challenge a few residents to a game.
- Help your children organize a shoe drive for orphans through Shoes for Orphan Souls. Take your teens on a short-term mission trip to deliver the shoes.
Give your kids a gift with eternal rewards. Bless them with the true joy of giving. How do you teach your children compassion?
“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” 1 John 3:17-18